Title: Vice Collar
Author: Amory Puck (pucktheplayer)
Pairings: Peter/Neal, Peter/El, eventual Peter/Neal/El
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: slash, dub-con, non-con, slavery, graphic sex, childhood sexual abuse

Author's Notes: Hi guys! Yes, I am aware that I have been away for two weeks. Sorry about that. I'm headed back to work in a couple weeks and I realized suddenly that the list of 'Summer Projects' I'd made (everything from making stuff for my Etsy shop to dating again to working on my AnimeFest cosplay) had exactly ZERO check marks on it. So I took some time to do stuff that wasn't on the computer!

To make it up, I'm going to do a random ass giveaway of what can either be a patch, a pin, or a hairclip (depends on what backing you want) of chibi Peter and Neal to one of the people who review this chapter. RULES: You have to be willing to give me your address (later, in a PM) so I can ship it, and you have to be signed in when you review so that I can actually contact you if you win. I'm just going to print off a list of the people who review this chapter on LJ or on , assign numbers, then use a random number generator to pick the winner. If you want someone else other than Peter and Neal, or if you want them in a specific way, I can do that. I sew them out of felt, so its not exactly hard to change how they look. Deadline for giveaway: August 19th, 2013. Anyway, here ya go! Hope you enjoy. :)

o o o

Chapter 24: Slaves of Our Lives

o o o

Neal had been locked in a lot of places. Everything from cages to coffins, but the closet was a classic favorite, good for slaves and badly misbehaving children. You know, if you didn't mind having Child Protective Services up your ass.

Oddly enough, out of the dozens—if not hundreds—of times Neal had been involved in some sort of closet case, this was the weirdest. Mainly because it wasn't him in the damn closet.

Peter had disappeared into its depths at least fifteen or twenty minutes ago, maybe more, and Neal was pretty sure that if the man stayed in there any longer, he was going to puke. Or maybe just pass out from the exhaustion of being THIS on the edge.

"Let's get this party started," his master had said, not in the most ecstatic of voices, and Neal had obediently lain down on his stomach like a good slave, ready to take whatever Peter had to dish out. He'd shut his eyes, taking deep, calming breaths as he waited for whatever punishment the man saw fit. Tense—and more than a little nervous—he'd waited. And waited. And waited. Until, finally, he heard a little click, and turned his head to discover his master was gone.

His first thought was that the man had left him there, but the door to the hallway was close to the bed, and Neal hadn't heard it open. After a few moments of confusion, Neal had realized that the once open closet door was now shut, and that he could hear soft murmuring within.

What the hell? Slave training was pretty broad schooling, but surprisingly enough it hadn't covered what to do when your master disappeared into a closet in the middle of a punishment.

It was times like this that Neal wasn't sure if having Peter as his master was a blessing or a curse. Okay, so far the man had shown himself to be amazingly generous, but he was also as unpredictable as hell. The closest Neal had ever come across was his training with Mozzie, but even Mozzie hadn't been this bad. The guy was as liberal as hell, thinking slaves should be up there with people, and maybe a little crazy, too, but Moz's crazy was predictable. He hated slavery, he trusted no one, and he was as paranoid as hell. That pretty much summed up Mozzie one hundred percent. Peter wasn't so clear cut.

Not that it was really a fair comparison, considering that while Mozzie had taught Neal everything he knew about being a con man, he had taught him nothing about being a slave, to the extent that Neal hadn't even really considered himself to be the man's belonging. Other men had filled that position in his life, men who could be counted on to put him in his place when he was bad. Even Mistress Kate had a firm hand, though she mostly punished him for stupid things, like not being 'empathetic enough' when she was on her period or forgetting that she hated salmon. Neal's bigger infractions had gone unpunished, but that made sense considering that those infractions made up most of their income.

Peter, though, was simply all over the place. Right off the bat, Neal had felt that Peter was his master, whether he liked it or not, something he'd never had with Mozzie and something that had developed slowly with the often submissive Mistress Kate. It reminded him of how he'd felt with Master Vincent, only about a thousand times more confusing.

Neal buried his face in the pillow, fighting back the panic trying to rise up within. Why the hell couldn't his master just get it over with? Why did he have to torture him like this, leaving him here, naked and alone on this damn bed?

Sweat was trickling down Neal's neck despite the fact that the room was chilly, and his muscles were so tight he felt like they were about to snap. Not that he had a right to bitch about anything Peter chose to do. He deserved this, for lying to Master. Hell, he deserved much more than this—being left to stew over his shortcomings wasn't exactly a singletail to the back—but somehow it just seemed worse. It made him want to scream, to cry, to act out in some way to prove that he wasn't the sort of boy who who became nothing when his master wasn't around. Because that was what it felt like to be abandoned like this, as if Peter believed that when he was gone, Neal ceased to exist.

Maybe this, all of this, was some kind of training Neal had never heard of. Generosity blemished by misunderstanding, a power play to keep Neal forever off balance. If so, it was a good one, because Neal hadn't felt this helpless since his first days in training at SlaveMart.

God, Neal was becoming as paranoid as Mozzie, but it just seemed impossible to him that out there in the world there were actually people without hidden agendas.

At this point, Neal wasn't sure of anything. All he knew was that the moment he'd set foot in Peter's house, his master had ripped the ground out from underneath him and left him to hang on the edge with everything he had. He was trapped by a force that would continue to press on him, slowly draining away his pride and his strength and his stamina, everything that made him, well, HIM. Somehow, some way, in all his supposed naivete, Peter had managed to do the one thing none of his masters since Moz had been able to do: tame him.

Neal didn't *want* to prove how clever he was anymore, Neal didn't *want* to impress anyone anymore, Neal didn't *want* to try and find away around the things that blocked his path. All he wanted was to be safe, to be protected, to give himself to his master so he wouldn't have to worry about these things any more. Like a little child, holding daddy's hand, trusting him completely and accepting anything that happened simply for a sense of security.

To be honest, it really pissed him off, but not enough to fight it. This last week had been exhausting, like being put through boot camp, only without any orders. And, like boot camp, it had broken him down, worn him out to the point that he didn't care any more what happened to him if it meant he wouldn't have to feel this way any more.

It had been a long time since Neal had been pushed to his limits like this. Even prison hadn't managed to break him like this. Neal's life had been horrible then, but he'd known what to expect. He'd understood his place, and given it the same silent 'fuck you' that he'd given every master since meeting Moz, somehow managing to retain a sense of himself, even through those brutal years. It had been much longer than that since Neal had been at the juncture he was now. Back before Mistress Kate, before Master Vincent, even before Mozzie. Back when he'd never expected to be anything but a slave, back when being a slave was his whole world, back when even contemplating *not* being a slave was beyond his mental capacity. Back when he'd thought that being a slave was all there was to the world, that being a slave was all there was to *him.*

The masters sort of blurred together, but Neal could remember the last master whose actions made him feel comparably helpless, though Neal hadn't known enough about the free world to even understand the concept back then. He'd been a particularly brutal master, that one, with a real love for hurting his pretty, young slave. Neal didn't even know his name, not because the man had refused to tell him or because it had been a secret. Neal simply hadn't known it because he'd never asked. It hadn't even occurred to him to ask. It wasn't his place to ask. Anything Master wanted him to know, he would tell him. Why in the world would he ask?

Now the logic embarrassed and amazed him, but back then it had made sense. You wouldn't tell your sofa what your name was, so why would you tell your slave? Neal had seen no reason to ask the man. Master Fist, Neal had called him in his head, because his fists had made love to every part of his body, whether that involved punching him in the face or shoving it up his butt.

It was true that Neal had always been feisty, for a slave. Most slaves were pretty robotic, but Neal had always been creative and outspoken. It made for a low price on the auction block, but Master Fist had made good use of his new buy's skills. He'd taught Neal how to run cons, and under Master Fist's watch, Neal had made his first forgery. Or copy, as he'd thought of it. At the time, he hadn't even realized it was illegal, not until he and Master Fist were hightailing it out of the apartment, running from the cops.

Mozzie had been the one to save him from that master and, in turn, from his life as a nothing, a nobody, the kind of boy who didn't think to ask people their names because he was simply that far below.

One con with Mozzie, and Neal had never beeen the same again. Everything he'd understood about the world had been turned upside down, and his mind had bloomed like a field full of wildflowers, the wind spreading the seeds everywhere. Words that had no meaning before had become the foundation of his life, things like 'me' and 'mine' and 'want' and 'take' and 'know.' Words that implied a sense of self, an urge for betterment, and a desire to have something and be someone. Nothing could stop it, not Master Vincent's cold discipline, not Mistress Kate's jealous passion, not even his prison hell. Through all that, Neal had managed to hold onto those sacred things that made him more than 'only a slave.' Yet somehow, in less than a week's time, Peter had managed to strip that all away.

If that wasn't a true master, then Neal didn't know what was.

Whether it really was simple naivete on Peter's part or whether there were deeper games at play, Neal wasn't sure, but he knew that he hadn't felt this out of the loop since he'd said goodbye to Master Fist. He had no idea what was going on around him. Every move he made was wrong in some way, because acting like a free man was wrong, yet acting like a slave was, too. It didn't matter what Neal did, it was wrong in somebody's eyes. Screw being caught a rock and a hard place, he was trapped in drying concrete here.

Neal was sure it would bother Peter to be compared to a man like Master Fist, but their similarities were as striking as their differences. Sure, Peter was obviously against bating the shit out of his slave, but just like with Master Fist, Neal had no idea what the next day was going to bring. With Master Fist, he could never be sure if he'd be a conman or a punching bag or a pet or a whore and with Peter wasn't sure who he was at all. Like Peter, Fist hadn't bothered to tell the slave what was what, and Neal had lived like an animal with no understanding what was going on around him, never knowing why Master left when he did or where he went or when he might come back. Another joy of being a fuckling.

Secretarial slaves, house slaves, service slaves, even cleaning slaves, had some idea of what was happening. They had to, or they couldn't fulfill their duties. Fucklings, though, were treated as if they had the minds of dogs. No, less than dogs, because dogs at least got attention. Put them in position, fuck them, then walk out of the room and leave them to wait with no idea of what they should do while their master was gone. That was what fucklings did.

It was painfully degrading. At least back then, Neal hadn't had the capacity to fully comprehend the extent of it. Now the feeling was a thousand times more intense than it had been when he was a kid.

Neal hated living like this. He *hated* it. It was the ultimate insult, having a master who refused to tell you what he wanted, and it was difficult for Neal to believe that Peter didn't understand that. It would be obvious to any slave, but then free men had some strange ways of thinking. Hell, with the way things had been going, Peter might very well mean it as a compliment, sort of a 'you're so much like a freeman, I don't have to tell you what to do' thing. Neal could understand that in a factual sense, but that didn't make it any less taxing. To be laying here face down on a bed, waiting silently for his master to return, if he chose to return at all, made him feel like a magazine that had been set aside, its reader gone off to do better things.

Better things. Such innocuous words for such a terrifying thought. So many better things than Neal. Maybe that was why Peter had vanished. He'd found something better to do. Neal could believe it.

Ian had said that Neal must be something special, to have a good master at his age, but he was wrong. Neal wasn't special at all, unless you were using "special" as a synonym for a disrespectful, arrogant, overused criminal. Here he was, being a mouthy, half assed slave who did absolutely nothing for his master other than run off and act like a prick, when his whole future rested on Peter wanting him here. Neal's master was getting *nothing* out of this relationship, and if Neal didn't figure out a way to fix that, Peter *would* get tired of him and Neal *would* be shipped out. The whole 'working at the FBI' thing was just ridiculous, as if Neal could actually do anything that all those Harvard grads with years and years of training couldn't do. He was only a fucking slave, if a fairly intelligent one.

Honestly, that whole 'take me as a consultant' thing had really been Neal's way of giving the sadistically honorable Special Agent Peter Burke he'd built up in his head an excuse to use him as a fuck toy, or just abuse him for the hell of it. Neal had figured that a man who'd put him in a position like prison slave had to have a thing for that kind of righteous justice, and would jump on any reason to have Neal under his thumb. As it turned out, though, Neal had exceedingly misjudged his new master, and at this point he truly wasn't sure why Peter had agreed to take him at all.

There was a whole list of things Neal knew the man *didn't* want him for. He didn't want him for housework, he didn't want him for service, he didn't want him for sex. Peter didn't want him as a play toy or a beloved pet or a useful tool. Peter didn't want Neal for his wife or for his friends. Hell, if you took all the things he wasn't wanted for into account, it looked like Neal was only living in Peter's house so he could sit on his ass and do absolutely nothing useful at all. That wasn't right, though, it couldn't be right. Nobody kept a useless slave. Deep down Peter wanted him for something, and Neal needed to figure it out before he went insane.

There was a soft click and Neal tensed as he heard a door open. Apparently Peter had decided now was the time to come out of the closet. If he hadn't felt so sick to his stomach, Neal might have made a gay pride joke.

Neal held his breath as felt the end of the mattress dip, but he didn't look up, keeping his face buried in the pillow.

"Neal," Peter said in a soft voice, "I'm going to punish you now."

Neal flinched, more from the hand that brushed his thigh than the words themselves. In fact, the words sort of pleased him, in a twisted kind of way.

"Thank you, Master," Neal replied, then realized the words were muffled by the pillow. He sucked in a breath through his nose and lifted his head up just a little. "Thank you, Master," he repeated, in a louder voice with only a slight tremble.

Peter didn't respond, and Neal went back to holding his breath. Apparently it was finally time to 'get this party started.'

o o o

Peter stared down at Neal's lithe frame. Wasn't he cold, lying there in nothing but his underwear? Why the hell had he taken his clothes off to begin with? Was this some sort of slave thing? Was getting naked some kind of ritual? Because if Peter looked at the slave's ass for too long, this was going to become… problematic.

The thought was an unpleasant reminder of Neal's little… revelation… earlier that evening.

"Neal, do you still have that…" Peter cleared his throat, cheeks going red. "That thing inside you?"

"Yes, Master," Neal replied in a dull tone, turning his face to the side so that it wasn't buried in the pillow anymore. "I still have the butt plug in."

Peter grimaced at the words. "Why the hell would you put that in, Neal? That's disgusting."

Neal flinched, eyes squeezing shut, and Peter immediately felt guilty. He hadn't meant it like *that*. It was just the thought in general that grossed him out, not Neal himself.

"I'm sorry, Master," Neal said in a soft voice. "I was trying to protect your property, I swear."

Protect his property? He made himself sound like a spare tire or a coffee mug. Ugh.

"Okay," Peter said, deciding to let it go for the moment, totally not because he was a coward. He was simply mentally exhausted after the rather eventful meal at the Calloways', and he didn't think Neal felt any better. They could talk about sex toys later. Or, better yet, never.

Oh, screw it. He was being a coward. Neal needed to get that thing out of his rear end. It was obvious from the faces he made every time he moved that he was feeling it.

"It's okay, Neal, but why don't you take it out?" Peter said, doing his best to avoid the actual word 'butt plug.' "Just thinking about it makes me wince."

Neal pushed himself up onto all fours, pulling his underwear down unceremoniously, leaving his limp dick hanging between his legs, then reached back, prying apart his ass cheeks.

Peter's face went hot, and he quickly looked away, then quickly looked back, the quickly looked away again. Man, that was a nice dresser. El had such good taste. The little flowers carved into it were lovely—oh fuck it. The damn dresser had nothing on Neal.

Peter's eyes slid back to the slave, breath catching slightly as he watched the boy. God, Neal was like a freaking sculpture, every muscle defined. The slave's biceps tightened as he fumbled around between his butt cheeks, making a slight face and biting those soft, pink lips.

His cock twitched, and Peter's cheeks went even redder. He should not be watching this, and he *really* shouldn't be getting hard from it. He wasn't a teenager, dammit! But Neal was just so *perfect.* Sculpted abs and muscular thighs and creamy skin… Even the little freckles sprinkled across his shoulder blades were perfect.

Peter noticed idly that Neal's body was strangely hairless. Had he shaved his body hair in prison? Did all slaves shave their body hair? Peter didn't know and to be truthful, he really didn't care. It was just a good excuse for why his eyes were latched on places they really shouldn't be. Just wondering about the beauty routines of slaves, no naughty thoughts here.

Yeah, right.

'Do what you want with him,' Haversham had basically said. Ha. Somehow Peter didn't think the man would have been so quick to say that if he knew the kind of things Peter imagined when he closed his eyes. Oh, God, did he have a vivid imagination…

Peter could practically see it, Neal just like he was now, but with Peter behind him, head thrown back and whimpers coming from that pretty mouth as his master pressed into him. Or on the floor, trapped beneath Peter, unable to move, to escape, to get away, as Peter devoured his mouth, dick hard against Neal's thigh. Neal gagging as Peter shoved his cock down the boy's throat, fingers wrapped in those dark curls as he forced himself deeper and deeper…

Oh, yes, Peter had a vivid imagination, indeed. He was the Walt fucking Disney of perverts.

Peter wasn't stupid enough to feel guilty about the fantasies in general. Hell, he'd had similar fantasies about his wife, about his lover in college, about the girl in his tenth grade chemistry class. But with a lover, that was all they were, just fantasies. Even when playing rough, it was still making love. Nobody had to do anything they didn't want to. It was different with Neal, though. Neal would never have a choice. And damn did that knowledge make the fantasies intense.

Talk about a power trip. Here Peter was, sitting on a bed next to one of the most beautiful men he'd ever seen, and he could do anything he wanted. Totally, one hundred percent, anything he wanted. He didn't have to ask permission or even consult with the slave. Peter could grab Neal right now, throw him on the ground, and do absolutely anything. Nobody would care. No one would do anything. Nothing was stopping him.

You know, except his morals. Fucking morals. Damn his hardworking all American upbringing. The one thing between him and Neal.

It was obvious in the way Neal was looking at Peter right now that he was well aware of the kind of power his master held. The knowledge was painted on his face, a mish mash of fear and wariness and grudging acceptance. It was in the way he held his body, tense but submissive, not trying to hide his private self like a freeman would, because he had no private self. He belonged to Peter.

A little whimper, just like the kind Peter had been thinking about, came from Neal as he pulled what Peter guessed was a butt plug out of his ass. It looked more like an instrument of torture to Peter, considering that it was the size of a fucking tree, but the bright turquoise color combined with the suggestive shape supported the sex toy theory.

Neal moved around on the bed until his underwear was off the rest of the way, wrapping the dildo up in his boxer briefs and setting it carefully aside, pointedly avoiding Peter's eyes. His cheeks were tinged with pink.

"It's out, Master," he said, as if Peter hadn't noticed, then dropped his head, hands slipping behind his back. His tense body actually relaxed a little as he fell into the familiar posture, and Peter wondered idly if it was a comfort to him, that particular position. He knew from the SlaveMart manual that there were a million others, but Neal always went for that one, with the arms behind the back and the thighs spread apart, buttocks on his calves.

Of course, considering that Neal was naked, the posture basically framed his genitals which, Peter noticed with a mix of embarrassment and dismay, were beginning to harden. Eyes away, eyes away, eyes away, oh what a really nice dresser, such good workmanship—dammit! Eyes back on Neal.

Neal's cheeks went a deeper shade of red and his shoulders hunched as he followed Peter's eyes to his cock..

"I'm sorry, Master," he said in an tense voice. "I was trained to… rise to the occasion when kneeling." His tone was even enough, but the blush had flowed from his face downward to his neck and upper chest, making it painfully obvious that the boy found it humiliating. Not that Peter could blame him. He knew damn well what it felt like for his lower half to work without his brain's permission, he was just lucky enough to be wearing a pair of loose fitting jeans sewn from thick denim.

"Didn't realize you could train that," Peter said gruffly, and Neal gave a choked laugh.

"Trainers tend to use the hormonal teenage years for evil."

Peter huffed, shaking his head. "Unbelievable."

Neal glanced up, licking his lips, forehead creased with worry. "Are you going to punish me now, Master?"

Right. Punishment. A whopping face full of Neal's cock had distracted Peter from his purpose. Great, naked punishment. The perfect way to keep his intentions pure.

"I called your trainer," Peter said suddenly, and Neal's head shot up, blue eyes going wide.


"I called your trainer. Or he said he was your trainer. A Haversham guy?"

A mix of emotions too quick for Peter to decipher dashed across Neal's face, finally settling on disbelief. "How did you know about him?"

"He contacted me," Peter said with a shrug. "Invited me for a little meeting to chat about you."

"Did you go?" Neal said, a nervous lilt to his voice.

"I did," Peter replied. "He lectured me about you, I told him to fuck off. But the truth is, I don't know what to do here, Neal. I have to punish you. I have no choice. You looked me straight in the eye, right after I swore that if you told me the truth that I wouldn't punish you, and lied to me. But I don't know how to do that. I don't know how to do any of this. I've never owned a human being before. So I called your old trainer."

"Whatever he said, don't believe it," Neal said, leaning forward a little, looking a little panicked. "He's a total liberationist, everything he says is crazy, it's all Abolition City with him—"

"He said to man up and use you like my slave," Peter interrupted, and Neal cut off abruptly, looking a little shocked.


Peter shrugged. "He said I was being selfish, ignoring your need to have a master to make myself feel better. He said that I should treat you like a slave."

"Wow," Neal muttered, actually looking a bit disturbed. "That was not what I expected."

Peter took a deep breath. "Neal, I am going to ask you a question, and I want you to answer me as honestly as you can, okay?"

Neal's brow furrowed, but he gave a nod. "Of course, Master."

"Do you want to be treated like a slave, Neal?" Peter felt stupid even saying it—who the hell would want to be a slave?— but it needed to be stated. They'd spent enough time beating around the bush, it was time to get to the core of the issue. There had been way too many assumptions made, on both their parts, in the last few days. It was time to come clean.

Peter hadn't expected a resounding 'no,' not after getting a little insight to the world of slavery this evening, but he was surprised at the divided look on Neal's face. The slave opened his mouth to speak, then shut it again, brow furrowing deeply. He started to speak again, then came to a halt once more, reaching up to rub at his face with the heels of his hands.

"I don't know," he said in a hoarse voice, looking up at Peter with pained eyes, then he shook his head, shoulders slumping. "No, that's a lie. I do know, I just wish I didn't."

Okay… "What does that mean, Neal?" Peter asked quietly, and Neal swallowed hard, Adam's apple bobbing as he stared down at the quilt on the bed, tracing the edges of the patches with his fingers.

"It means yes, Master," he said in a choked voice. "Yes, I want to be treated like a slave, just as much as I want not to be treated like a slave. But I guess that's my problem, isn't it? I'm too smart to *want* to be a slave, and too much of a slave to be smart enough to feel safe on my own. I may be an arrogant prick, but I feel safest when I have someone to tell me who I am."

Peter frowned, a little confused. "You mean someone to tell you what to do."

"No, Master," Neal said with a choked laugh. "You know me well enough to know that I mostly do what I want, what other people say be damned. I don't really need someone to tell me what to do. I can look around and see what needs to be done. I need somebody to tell me who I am, so I can recognize what I'm supposed to be doing. The question isn't, 'What do I do?', it's 'Who am I?' A prison bitch? Mistress Kate's pet. Master Vincent's assistant? My old trainer's apprentice? A SlaveMart fuckling? Those are all things that I've been. The one thing they all have in common? Being someone's something. But I don't know what I am to you, Master, so I don't know who I am." Neal's voice sounded hollow, and Peter had to resist the urge to wrap the man up in his arms.

"Neal," Peter said in a pained voice, "you are who you are. It has nothing to do with me."

"It has everything to do with you," Neal protested, looking upset. "You're my master. I am who you say I am." The words made Peter feel a little sick to his stomach. "Otherwise I'm nobody. That's why I got fucked at the office. Because he looked at me and saw nobody."

Peter took a deep breath, letting it out slowly as he trudged through his dueling emotions. "Yesterday you asked when I was going to fuck you," he said, the very words making him wince. "You acted like I was playing some sort of game. Why do you want me to have sex with you, Neal? And don't say because you want it. Don't think I didn't see the fear in your eyes, even as you were saying the words." He shifted on the bed, reaching out and laying a gentle hand on Neal's shoulder, trying to ignore the little rush of adrenaline that ran through him as his fingers met that soft skin. "Tell me, Neal."

Neal swallowed hard, and his eyes dropped downward. "I need to give you something, Master," he said in a strained voice. "You're my protector, the person with the right to say no for me. You do that for me, and I do nothing for you. I have shelter, food, rest, and you have a badly behaved slave living under your roof. It isn't right. It isn't normal. I don't understand it. I don't know what you want, and it's scary. I'm not some ugly knick knack from your mother in law that you can easily stick in the closet and forget about me for the next ten years. You have to feed me and clothe me. So why are you keeping me around when I do nothing for you?"

"We've been over this, Neal," Peter said, squeezing the slave's shoulder in what he hoped seemed like a supportive way. "I want your help at work. There's no other reason." No other reason that Peter would ever admit to, anyway.

"Please," Neal said, sounding a little disgusted. "I know what men want, Master." His blue eyes locked with Peter's and it took everything he had not to look away from that too truthful stare. "I know what you want, Master." He leaned forward, reaching out and touching Peter's chest. "Your breath," he said in a low voice, "it's a little too quick." His hand moved to the side. "And your heart, just a little fast. Your face and neck are red, and…" Down, down went Neal's hand, until it was hovering just a few inches above Peter's crotch. "And you're getting hard."

Peter shifted uncomfortably, not entirely sure whether Neal touching him like this was exciting or disturbing.

"There's no reason not to take what you want, Master," Neal said in a husky voice. "I don't understand why you refuse."

"I'm just not that kind of person," Peter said, as if he had any moral ground to stand on with his dick rising in his pants.

"Do I disgust you?" Neal said, and Peter thought he caught a glimpse of hurt. "Like I said, there's more than one way to fuck someone, and it doesn't have to be gentle. You can fuck someone who disgusts you. You can fuck someone *because* they disgust you."

Dear Lord. Peter palmed his face, cheeks feeling like they were on fire. A trickle of sweat ran down the back of his neck. "You don't disgust me, Neal," he said hoarsely. "And you're right. I want you. I really do." He gave a short laugh, glancing down at his pants. "Hell, it's not like I can really deny it. But just because you want something doesn't mean you get it."

"But you could have it," Neal said a little exasperatedly, obviously not understanding Peter's position at all. "There's nothing stopping you. The only reason *not* to take what you want is the consequences, and there are no consequences here."

Peter made a sound of frustration, shaking his head in disbelief. "No consequences? Neal, *you* are the consequences! The way you flinch and wince and cringe when I touch you. Those are the consequences! And I am not going to add to them. Don't you think your feelings matter, Neal?"

Neal huffed, shaking his head. "No, Master. No, I really don't."

Peter let his hand fall away from Neal's shoulder, pain stabbing through him at the defeated look on the boy's face.

"Tell me this, Neal," he said in as even a tone as he could manage. "What do you think about Ian?"

"I think he's very lucky," Neal said with a small shrug. "Very, very lucky. Most fucklings don't end up in homes like that, much less with such a caring master."

A caring master, huh? Peter leaned forward, like he was telling a secret. Did you know that caring master has had sex with the boy since he was in his tweens, and that for years he would whimper and cry the whole time?"

"Yes, Master," Neal said simply, making Peter blink. "I did know that. Ian told me."

Peter sat back, Neal's careless answer throwing him off a little. "And you think that's okay?"

Neal shook his head, thank the Lord. Apparently he wasn't totally out of his mind when it came to this stuff. "Of course it's not okay, Master. Even though he didn't mean to do it, it was still inappropriate. Ian is lucky Master Jack didn't put him down."

Okay, scratch that. God, this was unbelievable. "Are you kidding me?" Peter said, voice rising a little as images of a crying Ian stained his thoughts. "I wasn't talking about Ian being wrong! I was talking about Jack! You really think it was okay for him to have sex with a kid who was that messed up?"

"He gave him a *home,* Master," Neal said, looking as though Peter had lost his mind. "Master Jack saved his life, brought him into his house, and gave him a purpose in life. Ian owes him for that. And even if he'd been purchased through a dealer, do you think serving Master Jack came as some big surprise? Do you think he expected to be his new master's wife? We are not the same as you, Master, and we don't expect the same things. I don't know what you see when you look at me, but when I look at *you*, I see someone better than me. I have never, ever claimed to be anything but what I am. I'm a smart slave, I'm a talented slave, I'm a capable slave, but I'm still a slave. I'll never be what you are, Master. Never." Neal looked away, but not fast enough to hide the tears rising in his eyes.

God, what Peter would give to be able to shake some sense into Neal, but it wasn't going to happen, mostly because Neal was right. He *was* a slave. Even though that wasn't all Peter saw when he looked at the boy, it was all Neal saw in the mirror and, more importantly, it was what the entire world saw when they looked at him. Just another slave who was no one without a master.

Peter didn't want to accept it, but what choice did he have? The weird little man had been right. Peter *was* being selfish. If Neal had been interested in becoming something other than a slave, it might be different. Then they'd be doing something together. *Then* they could be friends. But Neal had never said anything to make Peter believe that he spent his nights dreaming to be free. Peter had no right to force his beliefs on the boy, not when the slave was the one who would pay for it.

Peter took a steadying breath, letting it out slowly. Neal was still staring off at nothing, eyes twinkling in the low lamp light, and Peter reached out, resting a hand on the slave's lower back. "Come here, Neal," he said, patting lightly at his lap. "Come bend over my knees."

The words felt weird on Peter's tongue, definitely out of place. Spankings were for naughty little boys, not grown men in their thirties. Because that's what Neal was, in reality. A man, just like Peter, just like any freeman with a dick. You could call him 'boy' all you wanted, and he'd still be a man, despite his hairless body. The half-erect cock between his legs was proof enough of that. But what else could he do? He wasn't going to take a belt to him, that was for sure. Of all the options, this was the best.

And if a tiny part of Peter just wanted to know what it felt like to have that lithe body bent over his knees, well, that was simply how it was.

Neal looked over at him, looking momentarily surprised, but then he climbed off the bed, moving over until he was standing next to Peter, then dropped suddenly to his knees. Peter's brow furrowed, but before he could question the movement, Neal was rising up again, in an almost ritualistic way, maneuvering himself until he was bent awkwardly over Peter's knees.

Well, Peter found it awkward, anyway. Neal didn't seem bothered at all, and somehow made it look graceful, despite the fact that his head was almost brushing the rug.

Peter did his best to ignore the pressing of Neal's dick against his leg, hoping that Neal would grant him the same, since he was most definitely rock hard against Neal's naked hip.

This was a really, really bad idea. A horrible idea. A terrible idea. What was it about bad ideas that could feel so damn good?

Peter was started to feel lightheaded as too much blood rushed downward and too much oxygen pumped into his brain as he took short, almost fevered breaths. He considered it a blessing, though, because there was no way he could spank a thirty-something boy as if it was normal without at least a little bit of a high.

Neal's bare ass was just as appealing from this angle as it had been on the bed. Peter was pretty sure no angle existed that could make that ass look anything short of beautiful.

Okay, enough stalling. If Peter didn't get this done with, he was going to jizz in his pants like a thirteen year old boy with daddy's Playboy magazine.

Peter licked his lips, raising up a hand and letting it down with a smack. Peter wasn't sure whether it had been hard or not, but seeing that it hadn't left behind any sort of mark, he guessed he'd been pretty light handed. It wasn't as if he had a lot of experience spanking people. Hell, he'd never even spanked a kid.

This time Peter brought his hand down a little harder, hard enough to sting his palm, and he felt Neal shift slightly in his lap. It left a bright red hand print behind on the slave's creamy skin.

Another strike and Neal let out a small sound of pain that made Peter's cock twitch. Oh, God, this was fucking terrible. He hadn't been this hard in forever—hell, he hadn't thought men his age could still get this hard—and there wasn't anything he could do about it.

Peter brought his hand down again, and his hand stayed on Neal's ass just a second too long before he yanked it back. Uh-uh. No fondling allowed. He needed to keep his head in the game.

The urge to wriggle around and pump his hips was almost unbearable, but somehow Peter managed. He really should have known better than to bend Neal over his lap when he was already hard as a damn rock. Rock hard and completely incapable of going any farther.

Fuck Neal's punishment. Peter was the one in the guillotine this time.

o o o

Peter's hand came down on Neal's ass with a hard slap, and Neal gritted his teeth. His master wasn't hitting him very hard, but after awhile the strikes started adding up. That was how spankings went. The first few slaps were just warm up. It wasn't until you were ten or fifteen in that you *really* started to feel the burn, a rawness to your skin that didn't come any other way.

The spanking wasn't really what had Neal tense, though. It was the giant erection pressing against his hip that was making him whine. Every time Peter's hand came down, his dick would twitch, making it obvious that the man found the whole situation to be a turn on. Which would be totally fine—*if* Peter was fucking him.

Neal's master's cock was pushing into his hip like it was trying to make a door, and there was nothing he could do about it. Peter had made it very clear that, despite his attraction for Neal, he had no intention of fucking him.

This was not good, not good at all. Neal's master was hard, Neal had *made* him hard, and he was just supposed to lie here and do nothing? It was his job to do something. That's what slaves were for. He needed to do something, or he wasn't a good slave. He couldn't let it be, he just couldn't. It wasn't right. It was bad, he was bad, avoiding his duties.

Logically, Neal knew that he was plummeting backward into his slave mentality, but he was too wound up to care. His heart was pumping madly, his own dick pressing into his master's leg, and his entire body felt hot. His head was light, and his ass was burning, a reminder of what a bad slave he was. He was flushing all over, and thinking seemed like a difficult chore. Way too much work when he could slip into the moment, marinating in the pleasure of serving his master.

If his master would *let* him to his job, that is.

"That's enough," Peter said abruptly, and Neal had a feeling it had less to do with what Neal deserved and more to do with how incredibly aroused his master was. It probably wouldn't take much more than a few touches to push him over the edge…

This was his chance. Operation: Woo Master had been a failure up to this point, but his master was obviously on the edge right now, just a few steps away from an intense release. If Neal could get them to that point then maybe, just maybe, Peter would see what he was missing.

Mind made up, Neal used the edge of the mattress to push himself up then, before his master could move, he swung a leg over him so that he was straddling Peter's leg. Their cocks were pressed together, and though Peter's was trapped by stiff denim, Neal could feel him, hard and ready.

Neal reached out and grabbed Peter by the back of the head, pulling him forward until their lips were pressed together, hot and sticky. Simultaneously he began to lightly thrust with his hips, rubbing their dicks together, and Peter made a choked noise.

The kiss was one sided, Neal's tongue foraging his master's unresponsive mouth, but Peter didn't pull away. Neal took that as permission to continue, reaching down with one hand and unbuttoning Peter's jeans, slipping in underneath the man's boxers until his finger were wrapped around the head of his cock.

Peter whimpered then, starting to pull back, but Neal pulled him closer, tugging at the man's dick as his thumb massaged the velvety tip.

Heart pounding, Neal kept thrusting his hips frantically, though he knew very well he wouldn't be able to get off. Not without his master's permission. Fucking training. It still felt good to try, even if it was frustrating as hell, so Neal kept going.

It didn't take long, maybe a minute at most, but when his master came it was with a cry, fingers digging hard into Neal's arms as the man's body sort of shook and Neal felt a sticky wetness dripping down his hand.

Peter pulled back from Neal's lips, panting hard as he stared at his slave with wild, confused eyes, his brow furrowing up.

"No," he muttered, shaking his head, his face turning bright red. "No. This… This was not… Oh, God."

Neal let out a short cry as Peter gave him a hard shove, almost sending him toppling to the floor. Neal managed to catch himself, though, and Peter sort of crawled backward on the bed, staring at Neal in disbelief.

"Oh, God, I cannot believe I… SHIT!"

Neal flinched as Peter reached out and punched the mattress as hard he could.

"Dammit, Neal!" Peter shouting, hitting the mattress again, and Neal stumbled backward, eyes wide.

The mattress got another punch, then another, and for the first time Neal realized how lucky the really was that his master wasn't a beater. Master Fist's punches had been nothing compared to the ones Peter was dishing out to the innocent mattress. The man must have boxed or done martial arts or something, because he knew how to hit. God, he knew how to hit.

Please, please, dear Lord, don't let him decide to hit Neal.

"What's going on?" The door to the hall swung open, revealing a worried looking El. Her eyes widened slightly as she took in Neal's naked body, but she quickly moved on to the issue at hand.

"Peter, what are you doing?"

"Dammit, Neal!" Peter said again, and Neal physically flinched as the man hit the mattress once more. "Damn, damn, DAMN!"

"Peter, stop it, you're scaring him!"

It was true, Peter's little display *was* scaring Neal. In fact, he had backed himself into the corner without noticing. But at least he didn't have in bruises from it. Yet.

Apparently a sharp word from his wife was all it took to tame Peter, because the man immediately came to a stop on all fours, head hanging down and breath coming in fast pants. He took a deep breath, letting it out slowly, then looked over at Neal, wincing as their eyes met.

"Sorry, Neal," he said quietly, sounding like someone had just told him his dog had died or something. "So sorry. I shouldn't have… Dammit!"

El glanced back and forth between them, looking confused and upset. "Does someone want to tell me what's going on?"

Neal's face went red at the words, a feeling of guilt washing over him. In all of his scheming, he hadn't even stopped to think how it might affect his master's wonderful wife. This would hurt El, and El didn't deserve to be hurt. He had to do something. He had to fix this.

"It was my fault," Neal said, in perfect chorus with Peter, and he looked over sharply at his master. "Sir, it wasn't your fault."

"Bullshit," Peter replied, voice heavy with guilt. "It *was* my fault. I should never have out you in that position."

"Master, I took advantage of it on purpose," Neal said, feeling just as guilty as Peter sounded. "I knew you wouldn't be able to say no."

"Would somebody like to fill me in on what we're talking about here?" El said, though from the look on her face Neal was pretty sure she already had an idea of what had happened.

Neal swallowed down the lump in his throat as he met her sweet, innocent blue eyes. "I'm sorry, Mistress," he said in a hoarse voice. "I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have done it."

"No, *I* shouldn't have done it," Peter protested, looking upset.

"No, I shouldn't—"

"Okay, you know what? That's enough." El glared at them, crossing her arms over his chest. "I'm sick of this. It's like watching a really bad soap opera. 'Slaves of Our Lives,' or something. Neal, get your clothes on. Peter, go change your pants. This show has a new director."